The Diversity Of Early African Architecture/Ruins Thread

For sure, Sikasso, Kong, Salaga, Djado are just a few examples of prominent cities situated along trade routes. I also understand that the Songhai extensively colonized what is today Niger(specifically Agadez, originally a Tuareg city but one that grew significantly under Songhai hegemony.
Reconstruction of Great Zimbabwe from Life at Great Zimbabwe:

Reconstruction of Khami:

Drawing of Agadez from Travels and discoveries in north and central Africa: Under Songhai rule, this city may have had some 70,000 inhabitants in the 16th century.

Agadez can be compared favorably to Gao, at least when looked at through the eyes of Leo Africanus, who described the latter city as being "unwalled with ugly houses except for a few impressive monuments such as the royal buildings and the like". The former is said to have boasted "stately mansions in the Moorish style". One can expect to find Songhai, Tuareg, Moorish, and Hausa style architecture in the city, owing to the many trading caravans which visited the city.

Dwellings of the Teke people, in the middle Congo, very similar:

The architecture is actually woven, I wonder if, Like the musgum people of chad, whose dwellings are built by potters instead of masons, Kongo dwellings were perhaps built by traditional weavers?

Mangbetu people.

The Mangbetu court was noted in the nineteenth century for its centralized organization, for the number of the ruler's wives and courtiers, and for its large public buildings. Strongest in the 1870s, the Mangbetu kingdom had broken up into a number of smaller units by the time the Belgians took over the region. Nevertheless, Chief Okondo pictured here, carried many aspects of the court tradition into the twentieth century. Here, Okondo is seated in front of a row of beautifully painted houses, surrounded by his principal wives and attendants. Royal objects, including the King's bench, a pipe used for drinking palm wine, and a ceramic wine jar are placed on a mat because they are not allowed to touch the ground. The male attendant standing to Okondo's left is holding a wooden shield, while the women are sitting on carved wooden stools

When Westerners first visited the region now called northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, they brought back elaborate accounts of the peoples living there. The first European description of the Mangbetu, in 1870, singled them out for their sumptuous court life, distinctive style of personal adornment and fine decorative art. Early reports gave no hint that Mangbetu artists ever represented the human form. Soon after 1900, however, the Mangbetu became known in Europe for a particular style of art that portrayed the bound and elongated head and body painting then fashionable among their rulers

, Okondo’s Village. Mangbetu peoples, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo by Herbert Lang. Submitted by Enid Schildkrout.

A king was expected to feed a household that could include several hundred people and to give away most of the spears, knives, musical instruments and other goods he received from subjects. When a king died, the capital was abandoned and the next ruler built a new residence and commissioned artists to make new objects symbolizing his power. Thus regalia did not generally pass between generations and the personality of the individual ruler gave power to the office.
The Great hall:

Mangbetu palaces were among the largest wooden buildings ever constructed, rivaling Japanese temples.
I've actually been searching for these pictures for awhile and only came across them a short while ago, central africa is increasingly revealing its secrets to us.

Interior of the great hall:

The first European to visit the Mangbetu people was George Schweinfurth. In 1874, in a book called The Heart of Africa, published in several languages, he described a great meeting hall, the central building of King Mbunza’s court. By the time the Belgians came, Mbunza had died and the building had disappeared. Herbert Lang, in the area between 1910 and 1915, as the leader of the American Museum of Natural History’s Congo Expedition, asked about the building and was told that another one could be built. Lang paid the costs and construction began. A year later, five hundred men had completed this enormous meeting hall (nine meters high, fifty-five meters long and twenty-seven meters wide). Inside, it was supported by beautifully carved wooden posts. The outside, shown in the next image, was covered with intricately woven rattan.
Doorway of the great hall:

The Great Meeting Hall, a detail of which is shown here, was completed in 1913. It was built of bamboo reeds, wooden posts, fiber cords and rattan strips. Although it had no windows, the fiber construction allowed light and air to pass through. The room was used for dances, court cases, meetings and ceremonies. The attendant standing in front of the doorway is wearing a garment made from bark cloth, a soft fabric made by pounding the bark of a Ficus tree with a mallet made of ivory. The cloth was then died a rich dark brown by being immersed in a particular type of mud.
Courtesy of Mangbetu Royal Art and Herbert Lang, 1902-1906, Page 13 - Art & Life in Africa - The University of Iowa Museum of Art

Very interesting, never actually knew how barkcloth was made myself.

Similar History Discussions